FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

General

What service does the Fountain Hills Sanitary District provide?

The Fountain Hills Sanitary District provides wastewater collection and treatment.  We collect, treat, and recycle all the wastewater in the Town of Fountain Hills.

Is the Fountain Hills Sanitary District part of the Town of Fountain Hills?

No, the Fountain Hills Sanitary District is a separate government entity from the Town of Fountain Hills government.  The Sanitary District was formed as a special taxing district (like a school or improvement district) in accordance with state statutes on July 21, 1969.

What day do you pick up my garbage?

We don’t!  The Fountain Hills Sanitary District provides only sewer service for the Fountain Hills area.  For questions regarding your trash collection, please contact Republic Services.

Republic Services
4811 W. Lower Buckeye Road
Phoenix, Arizona 85043
602-237-2078 or 800-833-4316
602-237-2641 fax
https://www.republicservices.com

Billing and Payments

How much are the sewer user fees for my residence?

For residential units, the current rate is $28.00 a month billed at $84.00 per quarter in July, October, January, and April per unit for all residential users.  Commercial rates are based on water consumption.  See the current Sewer Service Fees for specific information on rates and fees.

If my house is vacant, do I still have to pay sewer user fees?

Yes, sewer user fees are charged to all properties in Fountain hills regardless of usage or occupancy, as the fees are needed to maintain and operate the sewer collection and treatment systems.

What is my account number?

The Sanitary District uses a Book number and an Account number to identify your account.  You can find your book and account number on your bill.  The first location is on the upper right corner under the bill date.  It is repeated on the left, near the center of the page, above the service address.

Can you automate my payments?

Yes, our Auto-Pay program can automatically deduct the quarterly payment from a checking or savings account on the bill due date.  The program requires a signed application and a copy of a voided check.  Please allow 3 to 4 weeks to process this request.

We also offer Online payment options.  With this method, you may pay your bill with a credit card, debit card, or E-Check.

Why does it take so long for my online banking payment to be processed?

We recommend you authorize your online payment ten days before the due date to avoid any delinquency.  Your banking institution sometimes sends us a paper check via the United States Postal Service.  The date that they mail it to us is the date they debit it from your bank account.  We post it once we receive it, but first, we must verify the account information.  Any time the information on the online check matches more than one account is incomplete or is incorrect it delays the processing time.  If you utilize this method, please be sure both your Book and Account number are on the payment check and are correct.

How do I address concerns or problems I have with District fees?

If you would like to address your concerns regarding our fees, you may contact the Administration office or attend a public Board meeting which is held on the 3rd Wednesday of every month.

Sewer

My drains are clogged and sewage is backing up in my drains. What should I do?

First, call a plumber.  A plumber will need to determine if the clog is in the pipes inside your home or on your property.  Most times a blockage occurs when roots from landscaping grow into the sewer service line.  Next, you may call the Sanitary District at 480-837-9444 and put in a work order.  District personnel will check the main sewer line in the street.  After checking if the main sewer line is running normally, they will notify you.

The District is responsible for the main sewer line in the street.  The homeowner is responsible for the sewer line on their private property, including damage due to root intrusion.

What happens to wastewater once it leaves my house?

Wastewater includes all the water, soaps, and food wastes washed down a drain from sinks, showers, dishwashers, washing machines, and yes, toilets.  All of that wastewater is collected by an extensive system of underground sewer pipes, most of which are buried under the streets, and convey the wastewater to the treatment plant.

The wastewater treatment plant first removes the trash and debris.  The next steps use a natural, biological process to break-down the waste products and bacteria and remove solids and pathogens.  The water is then filtered through an ultra-filtration system; with holes so small they cannot be seen with the human eye.  The resulting recycled water is disinfected with chlorine (i.e., bleach) and/or UV light so that it may be safely reused.  The water is treated to exceed the State’s standards for Class A+ Recycled Water.

Ultimately, the highly treated waste, now classified as recycled water, is used as irrigation water for three local golf courses and three Town parks, including Fountain Lake.

What cannot be flushed down the drain or discharged to the sewer system?

The following items cannot be flushed or discharged into a sewer system as they can cause blockages in sewer pipes or damage the treatment processes:

  • Baby wipes, flushable wipes, paper towels, diapers, and feminine pads.
  • Paints, thinners, waste motor oil, antifreeze, or other solvents and chemicals.
  • Unused or expired prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications.
  • Fats, waste cooking oil, and grease.
Are baby wipes and other “flushable” wipes really flushable?

The term flushable means that a single wipe will pass through the plumbing of a toilet.  It does not mean that the wipes will not accumulate in your plumbing pipes and cause a serious back-up.  Plumbing clogs in the sewer service on private property are the responsibility of the property owner, not the Sanitary District’s.

Baby and flushable wipes are not biodegradable, meaning they do not break down in the transport or treatment of wastewater as toilet paper does.  Wastewater collection systems (sewers) and treatment facilities were not designed to handle a significant amount of wipes.  A considerable amount of time, labor and money are expended removing wipes from sewers, wastewater pumping stations, and treatment plants.

PLEASE DON’T FLUSH WIPES!  Use a trash can instead.

Can I drain my pool into the sewer system?

In some areas, pools may be drained or backwashed into a sewer cleanout located on your property.  However, there are specific areas in Town where the sewer system cannot handle the additional water from draining a swimming pool, and therefore there are restrictions.  Please call the Fountain Hills Sanitary District at 480-837-9444 to see if you may drain your pool into the sewer in your specific area.

Recycled Water

Why is recycled water used to water parks and golf courses? Is it safe?

Golf course and park irrigation, as well as Fountain Lake itself, consume a large amount of water.  The State of Arizona has encouraged the beneficial reuse of safely treated wastewater to take the irrigation demands off the limited drinking water supplies.  Being in the desert, it is wise to conserve our freshwater drinking sources to support human needs and economic growth.  State statues encourage and allow slightly lower qualities of water to meet irrigation and non-swimmable lake demands.

The recycled water is perfectly safe for watering the grass.  The grass is safe for routine activities, such as playing frisbee golf or sitting to enjoy an outdoor movie or concert.  The recycled water is not allowed to be used for swimming or drinking for public health and safety reasons.

Why can’t wastewater be discharged to a river or wash like other parts of the state or country?

The District does not have a legal permit to discharge treated wastewater to a river or wash.  The three most likely washes run out of the District boundaries and onto sovereign Native American Tribal lands.  The Native American Communities have not granted the District permission to flow wastewater onto their lands.  Besides, those washes eventually intersect with either the Verde River or the Central Arizona Project (CAP) canal, both of which are drinking water sources for many communities in the valley and state.  It is unlikely the State would allow wastewater discharges into those drinking water sources.

How does the quality of wastewater treatment affect the quality of water in Fountain Lake?

The water that is added to the lake is high-quality recycled water that far exceeds the State’s minimum requirements for Class A+ Recycled Water.  The recycled water has undergone an extensive amount of treatment including screening, biological degradation, clarification, coarse filtration, membrane ultra-filtration, and disinfection.

However, the quality of the water in the lake degrades over time as it is a large, shallow body of water.  The large open lake is subject to dust storms, fish and fowl activities, and the growth of algae blooms when the temperature rises.  Also, the large amount of evaporation that occurs naturally concentrates the quality of the water, specifically sodium.  The operation of the fountain aerators, and water mixers in the lake help to circulate the water, keep it from becoming stagnant, and help to manage the quality of the lake.

Does the Sanitary District control the operation of the fountain at Fountain Lake?

No, the Town of Fountain Hills controls the operation of the fountain, as well as the irrigation of the surrounding grass and maintenance of the lake.  The Sanitary District supplies the recycled water to the lake.

What can our community do to help improve the water quality in the lake or the quality of park and golf course grasses?

The single most impactful thing that conscientious water users can do is to remove salt-based water softeners.  The waste water produced when a water softener regenerates dumps a significant amount of sodium into the sewer system.  This sodium cannot be removed with the current, economical treatment processes.  Eventually, all of the salt from all of the water softeners in Town ends up in the recycled water and is put into Fountain Lake or sprayed over the golf courses and park grasses for irrigation.

You can help improve the quality of recycled water used in Fountain Hills by (1) removing your water softener,  (2) converting to a salt containing potassium, instead of sodium, (3) using a water conditioner system that doesn’t use salt at all, or (4) use an exchange tank service that exchanges the canister of used salt and recycles it for you.  Contact a water softener supplier to see which environmentally friendly option would work best for you.  Furthermore, THANK YOU!

Has the District considered installing a special treatment system to remove the sodium in the recycled water?

Yes, the District completed a Sodium Removal Feasibility Study in August 2015 to understand the sodium removal options.  The study found that implementing an advance treatment system just to address sodium would cost between $15 – $30 million dollars to construct.  In addition, such systems are energy- and chemical-intensive and expensive to maintain and operate.  The removal of salt from the water would mainly be to the benefit of the recycled water users (golf courses, parks irrigation, and lake filling).  The Board concluded it was not appropriate to have the customers of the District pay for such an expensive treatment system at this time.  The Sanitary District continues to keep abreast of future treatment technologies that could possibly provide a more economical solution in the future.

Would a Reverse Osmosis (RO) system make the water drinkable or swimmable?

No, currently it is illegal.  The water recycled through the District’s treatment processes is legally defined as “Recycled Water” and as such is not allowed for full-body immersion (swimming) or human consumption.  Currently, the state of Arizona does not allow any recycled water to be converted to a drinking water.

Is the recycled water drinkable or swimmable?

No, currently it is illegal.  The water recycled through the District’s treatment processes is legally defined as “Recycled Water” and as such is not allowed for full-body immersion (swimming) or human consumption.  Currently, the state of Arizona does not allow any recycled water to be converted to a drinking water.

Construction

I want to construct a wall, shed, or pool on my property. Do I need to call the Fountain Hills Sanitary District first?

Yes, before you construct a wall, shed, or pool you must find out if there are any easements on your property that may affect utilities.  If so, you must complete either an Encroachment Permit or an Abandonment Permit prior to final approval by the Town of Fountain Hills.  You must also obtain a building permit from the Town of Fountain Hills.

I am building a house in Fountain Hills. What do I need to provide the Sanitary District?

Prior to receiving a building permit from the Town of Fountain Hills, the owner or builder must come into the Fountain Hills Sanitary District administration office and pay for a Sewer Service Agreement.  Proof of this agreement is required in order to pick up an approved building permit at the Town of Fountain Hills Building Safety Department.  A building permit will not be issued without your signed Sewer Service Agreement.  For fees, please see our fee schedule under Forms and Documents.  Sewer design standards and building permit guidelines are also provided under Forms and Documents.

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16941 E. Pepperwood Circle
Fountain Hills, AZ 85268
Phone: 480-837-9444
Fax: 480-837-0819
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View the April 2019 Edition »

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